College of Pharmacy Researcher, Co-Authors Win 2021 Best Paper Award

By Benjamin Waldrum

The publication, “Perceptions of HPV Vaccination and Pharmacist-Physician Collaboration Models to Improve HPV Vaccination Rates,” is part of a growing body of research into implementing evidence-based practices, including vaccines, in community pharmacies. Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. The HPV vaccine prevents the virus in people who have never had it.

“It’s great to be recognized for our work with this award,” Teeter said. “Our findings suggest pharmacists and physicians are interested in collaborative arrangements like these, in which physicians refer adolescent patients to pharmacies for immunizations. Our study also found that parents support these collaborations and are willing to have their children immunized at community pharmacies. Establishing these partnerships has the potential to improve HPV vaccination rates and reduce the prevalence of HPV-associated cancers.”

The study stems from a two-year National Institutes of Health R21 award totaling $413,750. The award application was prepared in consultation with the Center for Implementation Research in partnership with the UAMS Translational Research Institute. Center Director Geoffrey Curran, Ph.D., provided mentoring support.

The paper’s co-authors are Catherine Jensen, Pharm.D.; Jeremy Thomas, Pharm.D.; Bradley Martin, Pharm.D., Ph.D.; Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., MBA; Cynthia Mosley, BBA; and Curran.

“Receiving this recognition is a validation of the work Dr. Teeter and others are doing within the UAMS College of Pharmacy and the Center for Implementation Research to explore innovative approaches to improving community health through pharmacy,” Curran said.

Pharmacists are established immunization providers in the United States and have taken on a larger role during the COVID-19 pandemic. But many people often go to their family physician for vaccinations. Teeter and his team examined multiple models that encourage physicians and pharmacists to work together to increase vaccination rates.

“If this model is successful, it could be replicated in support of other services, like managing diabetes and cancer screenings,” Curran said. “Increased communication and collaboration between physicians and pharmacists could have wide-ranging positive impacts on prevention and management of disease.”

ERSCP is an open-access scientific journal that provides a forum for exploratory work that drives interventions, hypothesis-testing and theory-driven research in clinical and social pharmacy. Four international judges reviewed each article and assigned them scores based on criteria like scientific merit, methodological rigor, and implications for future research and practice. Teeter’s paper received the highest total score. The study “has momentous implications for practice and further research,” according to ERCSP.